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ICT security for schools

Web/internet filtering

Our web filtering service is provided by Smoothwall and is used within local authorities across the country. This filtering service has been set up based on BECTA recommendations as well as taking into account the filtering options already in place for schools.  However it is important to recognise that this is your service and must meet your site’s needs.

Read more about the Smoothwall software guidance for Coventry schools

Option 1 – Site management of web filtering

Under this option, nominated individuals at each site will have the ability to change filtering rules to block or unblock web sites. This option has the following advantages to individual sites:

  • Full control over accessibility of web pages.
  • Enables rapid changes of filtering to be applied to react to changes in need – for example if access to a particular site is required for a specific lesson or activity.
  • Easy to manage interface requiring little or no technical knowledge to use.

However under this option you should be aware that responsibility for ensuring web content, including any ‘click through’ links are, and remain, appropriate for the age range of young people accessing the site within your establishment.

If you elect to use this option, ICT Services would recommend that a minimum of 2 people are nominated by your school who will be able to apply filtering changes. Identifying a number of colleagues will provide greater resilience for your site. You should also have internal processes for authorisation of web site blocking or unblocking which have been agreed by the Governing Body, or for non-school sites, the senior management team.

Nominated users will be emailed their own individual login details and a copy of the Smoothwall Web filter Management document, and it is important that ICT Services are notified of any changes to this list.

Option 2 – ICT Services management of web filtering

Under this option, requests for the blocking or unblocking of web sites will be made to ICT Services.  This option has the following advantages for individual sites:

  • Staff do not need to be involved in the filtering of web content.

However, there are a number of disadvantages to using this option:

  • Authorisation from the school will be required before ICT Services can apply filtering change requests.
  • ICT Services may not be able to provide a rapid response to requests to block or unblock sites to meet specific site needs, for example if access to a web site is required during a specific lesson or activity.
  • Requests to change filtering requirements may be denied by ICT Services if there are concerns over potential content and this may delay any changes being applied.

If you elect to use this option, ICT Service will require nomination of at least 2 members of staff who can authorise filtering change requests being sent through. ICT Services will also need the assurance of the Governing Body, or senior management team for non-school sites, that there are processes in place to monitor such requests.  ICT Services will also contact you to obtain or confirm the list of nominated authorisers.  It is important that ICT Services are notified of any changes to this list.

If you select Option 2, you should also be aware that the Service Desk will only accept requests to change filtering options by email from one of the nominated users using their identified email account.

Option 3 – Unfiltered internet access

Some schools/academies have chosen to take an unfiltered internet service from ICT and make this available to the whole or part of the school network, on the basis that filtering of this traffic will be controlled by the school locally.

If you choose to take Option 3, pages 1 and 2 of the Authorisation Form can be ignored, and page 3 completed and returned.

All Schools

Irrespective of which option you choose, you should ensure that processes are in place to safeguard pupils whilst using the Internet over and above any filtering controls that are in place.

All schools will need to have completed and returned the Authorisation Form indicating which of the options above you would like to use within your site and provide the names of those members of staff you nominate to undertake the various roles. There may be a delay in responding to requests for changes to your filtering by ICT Services until we receive the completed document.

It is essential that schools notify ICT Services of any changes in nominated staff and especially when a nominated individual leaves the school.

If the school wishes to nominate a new person to manage the filtering they will be required to complete a new form and return this to ICT Services.

Should you have any questions or queries about this, please contact the ICT Service Desk on 024 7678 6620.

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